Gmail Shortcuts You Can’t Live Without

Posted on Tuesday, December 27th, 2011 at 8:02 pm    

I remember very clearly the day my friend introduced me to keyboard shortcuts; those multi-key combinations that quickly execute tasks that previously required you to right click and choose an option from the drop-down menu list. Ctrl-C & Ctrl-V (Copy & Paste) are the two most common. These keyboard shortcuts have literally saved me millions of seconds and made long repetitive tasks much more bareable.

Did You Know Gmail Has Keyboard Shortcuts?

If you use gmail (which you should) you will be pleased to discover that Gmail has a laundry list of shortcuts that can make you more efficient both in terms of organization as well as tackling that ever growing inbox.

*Directions and list compiled from multiple sources including Google, About and others. This is not a complete list.
** From anywhere in Gmail if you type a question mark (?) the shortcut reference sheet will appear.

First off, make sure keyboard shortcuts are enabled for Gmail
• Go to the Settings link in Gmail.
• Go to the General tab.
• Make sure Keyboard shortcuts on is selected under Keyboard shortcuts.
• Click Save Changes.

Once Keyboard Shortcuts has been activated you can start using these time saving key combinations. In most cases you only have to press the stated key (no Ctrl, Alt or Command key required).

In the Message List
• x: Check or uncheck a conversation
• j: Go down to the previous conversation
• k: Go up to the next conversation

With Messages Checked in a Mailbox or Label
• y: Archive the conversation (if in the Inbox) or remove the current label (if in a label’s view)
• e: Archive the conversation (no matter the view)
• # (Shift-3): Delete the conversation
• ! (Shift-1): Mark the conversation as spam
• + (Shift-=, but = alone works as well): Mark the conversation as important
• -: Mark the conversation as not important
• l: Open the Labels menu to add or remove labels
• v: Open the Move to menu, adding a label and archiving the conversation
• Shift-U: Mark the conversation unread
• Shift-I: Mark the conversation read
• Shift-T: Create a new task linked to the conversation (with Tasks enabled)
• m: Mute the conversation
• Future messages in the same thread will go to the All Mail archive straight away bypassing your Gmail Inbox unless your email address is in the To: or Cc:line.

While Viewing a Conversation
• y: Archive the conversation (if in the Inbox) or remove the current label (if in a label’s view)
• e: Archive the conversation (no matter the view)
• # (Shift-3): Delete the conversation
• r: Reply to the sender only
• Shift-R: Start your reply in a new browser window
• a: Reply to the sender and all recipients beside yourself
• Shift-A: Start your reply to all in a new browser window
• f: Forward the conversation
• Shift-F: Start your forward in a new browser window
• ! (Shift-1): Mark the conversation as spam
• + (Shift-=; or just =): Mark the conversation as important
• -: Mark the conversation as not important
• s: Mark the conversation with a star
• l: Open the Labels menu to add or remove labels
• v: Open the Move to menu, adding a label and archiving the conversation
• u: Return to the message list
• x: Return to the message list checking or unchecking the current conversation
• Shift-U: Mark the conversation unread and return to the message list

While Composing a Message
• Tab followed by Enter: Send (under Windows)
• Ctrl-S: Save the message as a draft (while composing)

Anywhere in Gmail
• z: Undo the last action if possible (i.e. an Undo link appeared in the yellow status bar near the top)
• c: Start composing a new message
• Shift-C: Start a new message in a new browser window
• d: Start composing a new message with the Cc: field added.
• b: Start composing a new message with the Cc: and Bcc: fields added.
• . (dot): Open the More Actions menu
• g followed by
• i: Open the standard inbox (Priority Inbox or Inbox)
• c: Open Contacts
• d: Open Drafts
• s: Open Starred
• t: Open Sent Mail
• a: Open your All Mail archive
• k: Open Tasks (with Tasks enabled)
• l: Open any label (except in Google Buzz)
• p: Open the phone dial
• ?: Show a keyboard shortcut reference sheet

At first glance this list may seem daunting and overwhelming but like most things, the more you do something the easier it becomes. You will find that you use the same shortcuts several times per day where others you will only use occassionally. Choose the ones you like and forget the ones you don’t. In any event, I hope this will make Gmail more enjoyable and easier to use… it’s a terrific program both for personal and company email (did you know you can use Gmail for your [email@company.com] email?


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